MANILA, November 18, 2003  (STAR) President Arroyo ordered yesterday a "hero’s welcome" for Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao when he returns Friday after beating fancied Mexican fighter Marco Antonio Barrera via 11th round technical knockout for the consensus people’s world featherweight boxing championship at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

The President made the announcement in her press conference held at the provincial sports and games development office in Sta. Cruz, Laguna after talking with Pacquiao over long distance telephone call yesterday morning.

"I talked to him (Pacquiao) this morning and I told him we will give him a hero’s welcome because we are very proud of our world class champion," said President Arroyo.

She added that Fil-Am golfer Dorothy Delasin’s victory in the LPGA Tournament of Champions Sunday (Monday in Manila) only underscored the fact that Filipinos are really world class.

Meanwhile, Vice President Teofisto Guingona also joined millions of Filipinos yesterday in celebrating the victory of Pacquiao.

"Manny Pacquiao embodies the best qualities of the Filipino athlete. His strength, stamina, and unflinching courage in the ring make us all joyous and proud," Guingona said in a statement.

Both chambers of Congress also hailed his victory , describing it as a temporary relief from the political bickering that has divided the country recently. — Marichu Villanueva

‘Ring’ to honor Manny here? SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson (Star) 

While none of the alphabet soup governing bodies sanctioned it as a world title fight, there’s no doubt Manny (No Fear) Pacquiao gained recognition as the top featherweight in the globe after halting Marco Antonio Barrera in their San Antonio brawl last Saturday night.

Barrera was previously rated by The Ring Magazine, the so-called "Bible of Boxing," as the world’s No. 3 fighter, pound for pound, behind No. 1 Roy Jones and No. 2 Bernard Hopkins.

As if to chastise the often politically influenced ratings of organizations such as the World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Association (WBA), The Ring issues its own monthly honor roll–citing champions and 10 contenders in 17 divisions from heavyweight to mininumweight.

Pacquiao is now recognized by The Ring as the people’s champion in the 126-pound class. He will be awarded the prestigious Ring title belt, the traditional symbol of supremacy, to honor his ascent to the throne.

The belt has a red-white-and-blue waistband with gold trimmings, a golden plate at the front topped by a huge eagle, a picture of the champion framed in gold on both sides of the plate, and gold chains linking each frame.

The Ring editor Nigel Collins plans to fly to Manila to personally award the belt to Pacquiao. A source close to Collins said the awarding could take place in Malacañang in President Arroyo’s presence.

Pacquiao and his traveling party arrive in Manila from the US at 10 p.m. on Friday.

The Ring ratings are compiled meticulously by its editors. "Fighters recognized as champions by The Ring are rated at the top of their division with the top 10 contenders listed below," noted the editors. "Championship vacancies can be filled in one of two ways–by unifying all three alphabet titles (WBC, WBA and IBF or International Boxing Federation)–or by winning a boxoff between The Ring’s No. 1 and No. 2 contenders or in certain instances, a boxoff between our No. 1 and No. 3 contenders. The only three occasions when a fighter will lose his championship status are when he retires, moves to another weight division or is defeated in a championship bout."

Today, The Ring lists only 10 world champions, namely heavyweight Lennox Lewis, lightheavyweight Roy Jones, middleweight Bernard Hopkins, junior middleweight Shane Mosley, welterweight Ricardo Mayorga, junior welterweight Kostya Tsyzu, lightweight Floyd Mayweather, Pacquiao, junior featherweight Paulie Ayala and junior flyweight Rosendo Alvarez. The titles in the other divisions are vacant.

The Ring was launched on Feb. 15, 1922, as a newsletter covering the sport in New York. American promoter Tex Rickard financed the publication with Nat Fleischer as founding editor. In 1925, The Ring began to issue its own world ratings. By 1927, The Ring was widely read and highly respected, thanks to Fleischer who solicited articles from renowned scribes like Damon Runyon and Hype Igoe. Fleischer’s editorial column became known as the conscience of the fight game.

The Ring started awarding belts to world champions in 1922. Heavyweight Jack Dempsey was the first recipient.

Fleischer served as The Ring’s editor and publisher for 40 years. He died in 1972. Seven years later, Bert Randolph Sugar took over The Ring and introduced new graphics, new layouts and new writers.

In 1983, Randy Gordon replaced Sugar as editor and two years later, Collins assumed the position.

Barrera was a former World Boxing Organization (WBO) superbantamweight and International Boxing Organization featherweight titlist.

Early last year, he outpointed Erik Morales to capture the WBC featherweight crown but refused to accept the belt in protest of the governing body’s hefty sanction fees.

The WBC then declared the throne vacant. The Ring, however, recognized Barrera as the world champion for beating Morales.

Later, Morales took the vacant WBC title in a boxoff over Ayala. Morales has since relinquished the crown to campaign in the superfeatherweight division. A recent eliminator between No. 1 In Jin Chi and No. 2 Michael Brodie to determine Morales’ successor wound up a draw so the throne still remains unoccupied.

The WBA and IBF unified featherweight titlist is Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico. The WBO champion is Manuel Medina, another Mexican.

If Barrera declines to exercise his option for a rematch, Pacquiao may decide to defend his IBF superbantamweight crown against mandatory challenger Jose Luis Valbuena in his next bout.

Valbuena, who has lost to Barrera on points, is a slick boxer with average power. Pacquiao may also opt to give up the IBF belt and shoot for a showdown with Marquez or a megabuck fight against Ayala or a potential waterfront donnybrook with Chi for the WBC title since Brodie appears uninterested to face the rugged Korean again.

Pacquiao’s decision on whom to fight next will be based on how much money a promoter puts on the table. He’s now in position to command his price.Pacquiao has proved his worth as a legitimate world-wide TV main eventer.

Postscript.No Fear’s Tommy Ong phoned yesterday to cheer Pacquiao’s victory. Of course, Pacquiao is No Fear’s No. 1 endorser. For the Barrera fight, the No Fear logo was emblazoned on Pacquiao’s shorts, headband and robe.

Incidentally, Tommy said Skechers will be treating early Christmas shoppers with a first-ever "Markdown Madness" sale on Nov. 20-23 at the SM Megamall, Megatrade Hall 1, fifth floor of building B.

A huge selection of Skechers shoes will go on sale at up to 70 percent off plus giveaways await customers with a minimum purchase of P500. Among the celebrities expected to welcome shoppersare Heart Evangelista, Tricia Roman, Karel Marquez, Kaye Abad, AnimE, Camille Prats, Shaina Magdayao, Valerie Galang, Amir Carlos Agassi, Chynna Ortaleza, Angeline Aguilar, Sherwin Ordonez, Maoui David, John Lloyd Cruz, Greg Turvey, Marc Acueza, Diether Ocampo and Bettina Carlos.Don’t miss Skechers’ mega-clearance sale.

Show up early. Here’s a rare chance to get your favorite Skechers pairs at incredible discounts.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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